Leaders Praise Sharp at Retirement Ceremony

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va., Sept. 1, 2011 — The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Army’s senior offi­cer today cel­e­brat­ed the career of Army Gen. Wal­ter L. “Skip” Sharp, who com­mand­ed U.S. forces in Korea through chal­leng­ing times dur­ing his final tour of duty.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey, left, and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cen­ter, con­grat­u­late Army Gen. Wal­ter L. Sharp after his retire­ment cer­e­mo­ny at Sum­mer­all Field on Joint Base Mey­er-Hen­der­son Hall, Va., Sept. 1, 2011.
DOD pho­to by Navy Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class Chad J. McNee­ley
Click to enlarge

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey praised Sharp as he retired today after 37 years in uni­form. “Skip has been a major fac­tor in the lives of count­less team­mates, friends and fam­i­ly mem­bers over the course of his dis­tin­guished career and life­time of ser­vice,” Mullen said.

“As you leave our ranks for the very last time, know that we will miss your resilience, courage and will­ing­ness to not only take the tough jobs, but to excel in them in the tough­est of places, chang­ing hearts and minds wher­ev­er you went regard­less of the chal­lenge or dif­fi­cul­ty before you,” the chair­man told Sharp.

Sharp served as com­man­der of Unit­ed Nations Com­mand, Com­bined Forces Com­mand and U.S. Forces Korea from June 2008 to July 14, 2011. As Sharp passed com­mand there to Army Gen. James D. Thur­man, Mullen thanked him for his lead­er­ship dur­ing a time of North Kore­an provo­ca­tions and trans­for­ma­tion on the Kore­an penin­su­la.

“So we hon­or you for your years of hon­or­able duty in the ser­vice of our coun­try, and quite sim­ply, being there for your sol­diers and our nation,” he said today.

Dempsey com­pared Sharp’s career, espe­cial­ly a peri­od with three con­sec­u­tive assign­ments in the nation’s cap­i­tal, to that of Gen. George C. Mar­shall dur­ing World War II.

“[Sharp has served] thank­less­ly and duti­ful­ly at the strate­gic lev­el in Wash­ing­ton, when so many of his peers were gain­ing noto­ri­ety at the tac­ti­cal and oper­a­tional lev­el in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Dempsey said. “In doing so, he demon­strat­ed self­less­ness, humil­i­ty and ded­i­ca­tion doing what the nation need­ed him to do � not what he want­ed to do.”

Mullen and Dempsey praised Sharp for his pos­i­tive lead­er­ship and the abil­i­ty to con­nect with his sol­diers.

“His abil­i­ty to gar­ner trust, sup­port and com­mit­ment up and down the chain of com­mand, with new friends and old ones alike, is a hall­mark of his lead­er­ship,” Mullen said.

Dempsey called Sharp “a leader’s leader.”

“Our Army is sim­ply bet­ter and our nation safer because of his ser­vice,” he said. “He leaves behind a deep and wide bench of pro­teges who know what right looks like.”

Mullen praised Sharp’s long track record of tak­ing on and suc­ceed­ing in tough assign­ments.

“Even in his ear­ly years, Skip accom­plished his mis­sion by not just exceed­ing stan­dards him­self, but by build­ing a team capa­ble of exceed­ing stan­dards, and then moti­vat­ing it to do just that,” he said.

“From the sands of Iraq dur­ing Oper­a­tion Desert Storm, to the uncer­tain­ty in Haiti dur­ing Oper­a­tion Uphold Democ­ra­cy, to the uneasy cease­fire on the Kore­an penin­su­la, Skip, like few oth­ers, has had the abil­i­ty to build the bridges to suc­cess so vital to today’s world,” he con­tin­ued. “At every junc­ture, he’s come back with not only allies, but friends.”

Dempsey expressed his pride in help­ing mark the end of Sharp’s decades-long ser­vice in uni­form.

“It is a gen­uine hon­or … to be a part of those who are wish­ing you well as you fin­ish what has been, by any mea­sure, a remark­able career,” he said.

Sharp said he deeply appre­ci­ates those he served with, whether or not they wore a uni­form.

“It has been a great hon­or to work for and with each of you for the last 37 years,” he said. “I have been hon­ored to work with so many self­less lead­ers, both civil­ian and mil­i­tary, whose sole focus [dur­ing] count­less hours has been win­ning this war and tak­ing care of our troops and fam­i­lies. Thank you for allow­ing me to be a part of that.”

Sharp vivid­ly described mile­stones through­out his long career and thanked those who made his suc­cess pos­si­ble.

“To all the troops and Depart­ment of Defense civil­ians serv­ing today, it has been an hon­or to serve with indi­vid­u­als who vol­un­teered to serve and con­tin­ue to serve today know­ing they will go to war,” he said.

The gen­er­al he said he’s con­fi­dent the nation he has served for near­ly four decades will be in good hands going for­ward.

“As I look at those who are enter­ing and serv­ing today, I am very con­fi­dent the future holds even greater promise, here in the Unit­ed States and around the world,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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